Who would’ve thought cooking a piece of meat could involve so much science? Interestingly it has it does in fact have its own set of scientific reactions that occur, and if acted upon correctly can yield a great tasting product. Let’s take a look at how to avoid tough, chewy meat.
When I was young, I remember my Mom commonly making pork chops. I can’t recall when but eventually I just gave up on eating them, because they were always tough and chewy. I am huge on textures in food. Chewiness is one thing that grosses me out — ahem I don’t think I will ever be caught eating raw mussels. BLAH! Pork chops were the first thing to go on my list, but eventually steaks began to fall by the wayside for me as well. Whenever my Mom would serve steaks for dinner, they would mimic the pork chops – tough, dry and CHEWY!
So was my Mom over cooking the meat? Was it the meat itself? What was she doing wrong?
Meat is composed of individual muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are made up of many small structures, called myofibrils, which are made of proteins. Myofibrils contain a large portion of water. When cooked, the proteins that make up the myofibrils contract due to the heat, squishing the water out of the myofibrils. Have you ever noticed how your meat seems to look huge before you cook it, but after cooking it seems really small? It is due to those proteins contracting.
Let’s take a second to think about this. This water that was squished out of the myofibrils is now free floating water. If you pull the meat immediately out of the oven and slice it, that free water will also go out of the meat. So, is there a way to avoid this? Absolutely! Instead of slicing the meat right away, allowing the meat to rest for 10 minutes significantly reduces the water loss. This is due to the fact that the proteins relax after cooling down, and allow for some of that free water to be reabsorbed. An aluminum foil tent can be placed on top of the meat while it is cooling to retain some of the heat.
Try this method out and see if it makes your meat more moist and tender. Below is a rub to put on a steak. Enjoy!
- 1 rib eye steak
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil
- Mix oil and spices together in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the seasoning mix over both sides of the steak.
- Place steak on grill and grill for 4-5 minutes per side. Cook the steak to an internal temperature of 140F for a medium doneness.
- Place an aluminum foil tent over steak and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting the steak.